Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Masorti (Conservative) movement statement condemning the decision to outlaw circumcision of baby boys in Germany

Statement from the Masorti (Conservative) movement condemning the decision to outlaw circumcision of baby boys in Germany

Masorti Olami, Masorti Europe and the Rabbinical Assembly of Europe join the Central
Council of Jews in Germany in condemning the decision of the district Court in Cologne
to outlaw circumcision of baby boys.

The circumcision of 8 day old male babies remains an important and meaningful rite in
the lives of Jews all over the world. No other country has outlawed circumcision and
this new legal decision impinges upon the religious freedom of Germany's citizens be
they Jewish or Muslim and the rights of other parents who wish to circumcise their

A brit milah, as the circumcision ceremony is called in Hebrew, is one of the first
mitzvot (or commandments) that God asks of Abraham. Just as Abraham observed the
commandment, so too have his Jewish descendants over 1000s of years. While the
Masorti movement consistently balances the needs of modernity against the needs of
halacha or Jewish Law, there is no overwhelming proof that the circumcision of
newborn boys causes any "irreversible damage against the body" as stated in the
German court's decision. On the contrary, medical research has shown that
circumcision can reduce the risk of HIV infection, penile cancer and other urinary tract

The over 1.7 Million people in the 900 congregations and organizations in 45 countries
represented by the Masorti (Conservative) Worldwide Movement call upon the
Government of Germany to quickly work to reverse this grievous course of curtailing
religious freedoms and dictating fundamental actions of faith communities.

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, President of the Rabbinical Assembly of Europe
Rabbi Gesa Ederberg, Rabbinic Advisor of Masorti Germany
Dr. Joanna Kubar, President of Masorti Europe
Rabbi Chaim Weiner, Av Bet Din and Director of Masorti Europe
Rabbi Gerry Skolnik, President of the International Rabbinical Assembly
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President of The International Rabbinical Assembly
Alan Silberman, President of Masorti Olami
Rabbi Tzvi Graetz, Executive Director of Masorti Olami

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